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Oct. 16 Joe Maddon pregame interview

October 16, 2016

Q. When you first saw Baez last Spring Training, what was what were your initial thoughts and how has that played out as opposed to what you thought?JOE MADDON: I actually went to see him in Puerto Rico when I first got the job. I went down there. Eddie Perez

Q. When you first saw Baez last Spring Training, what was what were your initial thoughts and how has that played out as opposed to what you thought?

JOE MADDON: I actually went to see him in Puerto Rico when I first got the job. I went down there. Eddie Perez was managing, Santurce -- I was at the Hiram Bithorn Stadium there, and I got to see a couple games. And I was really impressed. As you ask that question, I remember him making some really good plays at second base, and I saw him make some very good base running maneuvers. The issue at that time was just his hitting with the long swing and all the different things, the high legs. Really extravagant wrapping of the bat. But he's really toned a lot of that down. But, honestly, last -- not this Spring Training, the last one, I said during the meetings when I first -- my first time there, I said we're a better team with him on the field. And of course he wasn't quite ready for all of that yet, but now he is. So it's just a unique talent, it's a unique skill set. There's the obvious stuff, but it's so hard to teach how quickly his mind works. You just can't. There's certain people that have it. In all sports. Whether it's a Magic Johnson who I saw last night, what he can do on a basketball court. Some of your greater running backs. They just have this vision. They see things. He sees things. And that's why he's so good.

Q. Can you concern yourself with the scrutiny of fans and media at this point or any point as a Major League manager, and because the people are watching more intently now, scrutinizing, does it change how you react to it or can react to it?

JOE MADDON: Honestly, I welcome all of it. I think it's great. I used to hang at Bellhops in Hazelton on Alder Street, and the discussion would always be the Phillies or the Orioles or the Yankees or the Mets. And at that time it was just basically the scrutiny was pretty much relegated to the length of the bar. Now it's -- with social media as it is, it's international basically. I have no problem with it whatsoever. I have no problem answering anybody's questions. I promise you I got a reason now. Sometimes if it doesn't work out, and I will say this, it doesn't mean it was wrong, it just means it didn't work in the moment. I think sometimes you have to understand that both teams are good, both teams have professional players on them, and you're trying to match up your talent against theirs as best you possibly can in that moment. So I think it's great. I have no problem with it whatsoever. I'm really happy people are actually watching. And the more people we can watch that want to scrutinize, please, tune in.

Q. Dexter Fowler's game with the two plays and the home run, have you ever sat back this season or in postseason to wonder where you guys would be if he had not resigned here?

JOE MADDON: That's actually an awesome point. Go back to Spring Training, and even prior to that where we were trying to put this thing together, and I was on the phone a lot with Theo and Jed regarding the composition. And then we got to camp, and Dexter was still out there. And we started the conversation about, well, if we can do this, how are we going to share the at-bats among him, Soler, Schwarber and Baez. That was kind of a difficult thought process. But it's -- and you guys have heard me say it before, baseball's a cruel way of answering its own questions, and Georgie got banged up, Schwarber's out early, and all of a sudden this guy's really the reason why we were so successful in the first half. Then you saw a lot of it again last night. I tell him before every game: You go, we go. Tell him before every at-bat. It's just true. It's just true. What he's done for us offensively -- and I know you're talking about defense, it's kind of funny because last year he wasn't considered as good of an outfielder as he was considered this year. The part that's entertaining to me is the fact that he's exactly the same outfielder except that he's playing deeper, and then all of a sudden he's perceived to be better, which really I think speaks to positioning. And that's either a personal philosophy of the player or an organizational philosophy when it comes down to scrutinizing, again, or rating of a particular player at a position. So, the biggest difference or the only difference between him this year and last year is positioning prior to the ball being hit, and all of a sudden this year he's considered a better outfielder than he was last year. That's the part when you get to different kind of things that you may read or numbers that are posted, he's exactly the same player. And we would not be in this position without him.

Q. What issues does a lineup with eight left-handed batters present?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, they got a bunch of switch hitters. You look at their righties, and there's always a complementary left-hander for their righties. And that's what you have to take into consideration. Like last night, in that game, how do you match up in the latter part of the game? I'm just saying for tonight, with Kyle, Kyle's actually been really good against lefties. The biggest thing is to not change your game plan or not to -- I think the biggest trap there would be, to try to avoid contact. He needs to pitch to contact. And he needs to be aggressive like he always is. I'm talking about Kyle now versus a all these lefties. If you want to attempt to miss bats you're going to get in bad counts, you're going to end up walking people that he normally doesn't walk, and then you put them in a better position. So primarily that's it. After that, obviously if we jump to a lefty in the middle part of the game and it's up to them how they want to react to that with their lineup for the last part of the game, it's -- that's just how they're built. And their bullpen is the same, like I talked about, complementary lefties and righties. Like yesterday, they had more of the right-handed lineup and today is their left-handed hitting lineup. I don't think there's necessarily anything different except how our pitcher perceives it. And that's my point. I would rather them or Kyle be more assertive and aggressive like he always is, let our defense play. We have a really good defense on the field. That's our best method of beating them.

Q. You said last night you don't have concerns about using Chapman for more than just the three outs. But do you have concerns about how this is affecting him? He looked pretty upset again last night, and I know you said he was the other night.

JOE MADDON: Yeah, he was. And of course I am. You always want to take care of guys' feelings into consideration. But I'm here to tell you that he did great job last night. Not just an okay job. When he strikes out Seager and then Puig, eventually gives up a base hit, okay. But then he does not relinquish the lead. By not relinquishing the lead right there, that permits us to do what we did and also kept their better relief pitchers out of the game. So, in that particular moment, even though on the surface you might argue that he did not, he actually did come through, I think. The alternative would have been to put somebody else on that middle part of the batting order which possibly could have relinquished the lead, and then we would have been in all kinds of trouble. So his talents last night served us absolutely appropriately in the best way we possible could, and I want to make sure that he understand that we could not have won that game last night without what he did, even though the single occurred, him holding serve right there, not relinquishing the lead permitted to us win that game.

Q. Thinking about Dave Roberts, in his first postseason. Wondered if you in that World Series run however many years ago learned anything in that October that you carry with you still?

JOE MADDON: Wow, yeah, I would like to have better weather to play in. I'm trying to think of anything specifically with that. I do think in some regards, and it's just an experience situation. It does slow down a little bit when you get more opportunity to play in some postseason -- that was like my really -- that was my first postseason as a manager. And a lot of stuff happened in that year. Although, having spent as many years as I had even in the playoffs as a bench coach -- and I always say this, and this is for all my buddies out there that are still working in the Minor Leagues or scouting, that experience to me is probably what helps me the most right now, is all I had done in the Minor Leagues, starting from 1981. I started out as a full-time scout for three years, and then I was a rookie league manager, became a full-time manager for three before I became a roving instructor. So, I get to observe a lot. When you become that rover, you get to observe a lot. When you're managing in the Minor Leagues, you get to try a lot of different things. Because if it doesn't work, there's no social media, nobody is checking you out in Midland versus San Antonio, whatever date that was, when you want to try your five-man infield, nobody sees it. So I -- or the back field at Gene Autry Park. Nobody sees it. So a lot of where I'm at right now I want to believe is attributable to all those things I did back then that nobody ever talks about, nobody ever sees. And that's fine. So for Dave I'm sure he's going to be in this situation a lot moving forward. And, again, for me, probably the biggest thing, if there was anything, moving to subsequent playoff series, that maybe that it just slows -- I'm talking about everything, not just necessarily the game, like there's this, doing all this kind of stuff. All the ticket requests. People wanting to get in touch with you. Everything that occurs at this time of the year tends to -- I don't want to say overwhelm, but it inundates. So you have to be careful with that.

Q. A follow-up, going back to the Dexter Fowler question, simply, you said he's the same outfielder except he's playing deeper this year. What led to that? What was the process there?

JOE MADDON: Our guys, are nerds tell me about that, our geeks that came to me with all that information. And I've been through that before with other outfielders because I -- honestly, as a manager, you want to think you see everything, but you don't. Like you get so locked up. And I didn't even realize the other night when Zobrist had that double in San Francisco it was a 3-1 count. I was so looking into internally about what was happening next. So my point is I don't necessarily glom onto where is Dexter playing right now. So the boys keep track of that. They told us about it. We brought it to his attention in Spring Training, and he's made the adjustment. And like I said, all of a sudden he's a lot better centerfielder by being exactly the same. There's nothing, nothing different about the way he approaches a ball in the gap, how he comes in on a grounded ball, how he throws. Exactly the same.

Q. I was wondering what you're seeing in Anthony Rizzo's at-bats and if you think he's pressing a little bit now, and also how does it speak to the overall strength and depth of your club that you could be in the position you're in while he's still looking to get going?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, he's probably -- it's always going to be described as pressing, whatever, but I think he's fouling his pitch off. Classic. The pitch that he likes is going straight back. It's not contacted going forward. And then beyond that, he might be chasing a little but outside of his zone. Those are like classic indicators. I can't tell you that there's anything wrong with his mechanics. I just think that everybody goes through these particular moments. And you're right. The fact that we're able to fight through him not being normal at the plate right now is good belief for us, but I really anticipate you're going to see that in the near future. Nothing different. Again, it's just that it's just one of those moments. He's missing his pitch. And, again, going back to the Giant game, one of the biggest plays in this whole postseason is the walk against Lopez, accepting your walks, accept your walks, don't expand your strike zone. Also, Zobrist swinging the bat pretty good behind him right now should lend him seeing some better pitches.

Q. How do you want your guys approaching Kershaw? What do you tell them? Any thoughts or --

JOE MADDON: Yeah, Johnny's got a pretty good game plan. I talked to Mallee about it, of course I'm not going to reveal it, but the big thing with Kershaw is that if he's on top of his game, man, it's just -- it is what it is. You're just going to have to outpitch good pitching somehow. You never anticipate scoring a lot of runs. You really -- situations like this, you have to -- if you have opportunities to score runs with outs, you do. You just can't rely on the base hit all the time. Don't expect to spring three or four hits together. You might catch a homer once in a while. But the fact that he's been on such a heavy load lately, it's going to be just interesting to see where he's at. I think that command and velocity will tell you a lot early on. I anticipate good from him, but how sustainable is it. So those are the factors that we got to look into tonight. But I give him a lot of credit, man. The guy's good. He's really good. He's an outstanding person. I've had great conversation. I can understand why he's as good as he is.

Q. Just again on Chapman again. You mentioned the first two strikeouts he has, that one guy I think was on 101, the other guy was 103, and then Gonzalez manages to turn around a 102. Are you -- you know what a weapon he is, and the big part of that, obviously, is that velocity. How stunned are you when that actually happens, or are these the best players in the world and they can do that sometimes?

JOE MADDON: You're stunned but you still have to concede that they are the best players in the world. Even like the -- it was even more unlikely the ball that Gillaspie hit because it was elevated, it was like over his head, and he hit the ball like to the deepest part of that ballpark in San Francisco. Yeah, it is stunning when it occurs. And, again, you lay out your plan and you work your plan, and sometimes it doesn't see itself all the way through. But that, again, doesn't mean it was wrong. I thought he did great yesterday. I really did. And because he gave up a hit and they scored two runs, people are denigrating him. I think he did wonderfully. And you're right, the stuff was superb. It wasn't pedestrian by any means. It was superb. And I -- my job is to make sure that he understands that moving forward. Because you're going to he see him out there in three-plus outs again. I would like -- I would like it to be a little bit less than bases loaded. I mean, give the guy a break. That's suboptimal right there. You look, I was really -- we were really trying to create a couple outs. And we actually -- the soft base hit to left, it's a hit, the walk tight strike zone, and then a chopper to third, and all of a sudden the bases are loaded. So, it's hard to denigrate it. And it's playoff baseball, man. It's the best time of the year. It beats the Super Bowl by leaps and bounds as far as I'm concerned. You do this possibly seven times against these guys, another seven times in a World Series after the playoff games, all the baseball the folks are seeing right now is absolutely superb. Appreciate it. From both sides. Fortunately we came out on top last night. But as a real baseball junkie, I really appreciate the style and the ability of a lot of the young players in the game today.